Thursday, January 25, 2007

Not divisive, just the opposite

Remember that NAPE incentive pay plan proposed for Alex Green and Inglewood that the MNEA wouldn't allow? Remember how the union was all concerned it would be divisive? Well, some examination of the Little Rock, AK plan based on where it is now has been done. It's only year one--but so far it's looking good.

This is where the more startling observations are found:
  • The more prevalent criticisms of merit pay by detractors, such as corrosive competition or a negative work environment, didn't surface in the study. In fact, the opposite may have occurred: 83 percent of teachers participating in the program reported increased collaborations with fellow teachers, compared with just 19 percent of teachers outside of the program. There were similarly lopsided responses with respect to counterproductive competition: 22 percent of teachers in the merit pay program agreed that this occurred, compared to 74 percent of teachers outside the program.
  • Teachers participating in the program didn't report being more innovative or working harder than their colleagues who didn't participate in the program.
  • Teachers receiving merit pay "were more likely than comparison teachers to view low-performing students as an opportunity to demonstrate teaching ability rather than as a burden."
In short, a properly designed merit pay program can have significant benefits for both teachers and students.
You can read the 'not so fast' opinion from the NEA (not the Arkansas teacher's group--they brought out the big union guns for this).
The NEA response, reprinted verbatim below, questions the impartiality of a study financed by the same organization financing the pay experiment. It also notes the limited scope of the review, the absence of some underlying data on which the University of Arkansas's conclusions were based and suggested that a press release on the report hyped the more limited findings of the researchers themselves.

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